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City Attorney Goldsmith Calls For Lawsuit Reform

Aired 9/13/12 on KPBS News.

San Diego’s city attorney says the state needs to reform how its courts handle lawsuits.

— City Attorney Jan Goldsmith says San Diego spends about $25 million a year handling frivolous lawsuits.

He spoke at a news conference put on by the group California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. Goldsmith said, unlike private citizens, the city cannot recover its legal fees when it wins a lawsuit. He said that should be changed.

"A 'loser pays attorneys' fees' is the most effective reform that could be implemented," he said. "Don’t stop people from filing their claims, but take responsibility when their claims have no merit."

Goldsmith said several states have created laws that give judges discretion to order losers to pay attorneys' fees.

Two bills, SB 1186 and AB 2274, aimed at reducing lawsuit abuse, are waiting for Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

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Avatar for user 'edwardtlp'

edwardtlp | September 13, 2012 at 6:15 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Goldsmith is simply politicking...there are already laws on the books that order those who bring frivolous lawsuits to pay the other side's costs. If the City is paying ANYTHING to defend against suits that REALLY ARE FRIVOLOUS, then Goldsmith isn't doing his job!!

But changing the private attorney general doctrine is something else altogether. There shouldn't be an impediment against bringing a valid lawsuit against a governmental agency as most of the time the individual is attempting to validate the rights of all or a large class of citizens. And protection of the rights of citizens is something we cannot expect the government to do, so we have to do it through the courts. Often times the law isn't well written and bringing a suit to get a declaration of what the law really means is a valid use of the court. But Imposing a "loser pays" on suits to protect citizens' rights would allow the state to run rampant.

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